2004 Independent Game of the Year (Posted Dec 31, 2004)
2004 Top 10 Games of the Year
For all those who think that the best games that
came out this year were all sequels Game Tunnel presents a different look at the
best of 2004. Game Tunnel has put together its list of the top 10 indie games
this year, and it is sure to have a few gems that you probably haven't even
While mainstream gaming has seemingly given up on
innovation and embraced instead rehashing old ideas over and over again until
you can barely tell the titles apart, Indie gaming has presented another fine
crop of games that will give you multiple gaming experiences that you won't find
anywhere else in addition to taking some older concepts to new heights. With an
increasing number of professional developers who have responded to the
mainstreams strangling advances on innovation by creating Indie games by going
it alone the quality of the Indie games released this year has improved greatly.
Without further ado, I give you the Top 10 Indie
Games of 2004:
Number 10 - I of the Enemy
||Players: 1-8 (LAN)
|Release: November 2004
Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, 400MHz Pentium II , 128 MB of
RAM, DirectX 8+
I of the
Enemy is a Real Time Strategy game that presents many different mission types,
such as delaying convoys and other specific objectives. Players use some
persistent units, who gain experience and ability over time, which leads to a
portion of your team having a little bit of familiarity as you move on through
the many levels broken into 3 chapters in the game. In
addition LAN play is available allowing 8 players to play together and against
each other in fantastic futuristic Sci-Fi battles.
Really though, the
first thing you'll notice when you play Enemy Technology's "I of the Enemy" or
even got to their website is the absolutely amazing quality of the audio.
The voice work in the game and music are wonderfully done. The first
time I put this game in, I heard from the other side of the room: "is that one
of your indie games?" The person, who has watched hundreds of indie games
come through my computer in the last few years, was visibly shocked by what they
were hearing, and with good reason. The sound in I of the Enemy is crystal
clear and very professionally done.
This comes out probably most forcefully with the
main character of the game, Verkkal, who is voiced by Ian McNeice, perhaps best
known by Sci-Fi fans for his role as
Baron Harkonnen in Dune. With very strong voice acting on the game that
rivals anything that you'll find in mainstream gaming, and often beats it, I of
the Enemy was a strong contender for the sound award before you even get to the
soundtracks which are excellent.
the most intriguing portion of the game though is its rich storyline that is
full of twists that will leave players not knowing which way is up before they
reach the end of it. The added cinematics, while not up to mainstream
standards, go a long way in helping players understand the struggle between the
races in the game and will eventually introduce a twist that is sure to make
every gamer go "oh my gosh" when they realize what is happening.
The graphics in the game are closer to the old
Command & Conquer games than newer games such as Warcraft III or World Fables,
and while that may keep some people from checking out the game it doesn't hinder
the quality of the game overall.
of the Enemy is a game that more closely resembles mainstream games than most
Indie games do, but the quality of the story and stick to-it-ness of the
developers in bringing out the game and vision that they had is something that
every Indie gamer will recognize as they play through this very well constructed
Number 9 - Revolved
Alter Ego Studios
|Release: December 2004
Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2K/XP, 733 Mhz, 64 MB RAM, DirectX 3.0+
It's hard to describe exactly what it is that
makes Revolved work. What probably makes the game the most enjoyable is
the depth of the game play that is involved.
Puzzle games come along in a nearly non-stop barrage of mostly mindless rehashes
of previous concepts. While some of them, such as PopCap's Zuma Deluxe,
make their money by improving those old concepts, there have been precious few
concepts to come along that have been as good as Revolved. There are only
two other puzzle games that have been made that have as addictive game play
qualities as are found in Revolved. Those two games are Bejeweled and
Tetris, but Revolved is better than either of those titles.
well and quickly are both required to advance very far in Revolved. The basic games
revolves around creating a square in which all four sides have the same color
fuse. You can move any of the fuse squares on the board either clockwise or
counterclockwise by just clicking on them with the left or right button on your
mouse. The game really gets going as you become more aware of what
is possible in the game.
The open-ended play allows players to do a lot
of things, and gamers will find that each time they play the game they discover
new ways to manipulate the pieces on the screen and claim victory over the fuses.
personally dreamed about this game for days on
end after first playing it, completing fuse boxes over and over in my head.
While that may be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look
at it, one thing isn't in doubt, this game is one of the most
addictive puzzle games you will ever play and it has sucked away a lot of the
time that was supposed to be spent writing these awards. For the
addictiveness that Revolved shows helped it win the 2004 Puzzle Game of the Year Award
and it didn't stop there, having now placed as one of the best 10 games of the
Number 8 - Smugglers 3
Niels Bauer Games
|Release: January 2004
Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
Smugglers 3 is one of the more enjoyable surprises that came out this year. The
game is a treat for sci-fi fans who are looking for more than action in their
games. In Smugglers 3, you are a pilot in a interstellar conflict. However,
instead of spending your time in non-stop battle action sequences, Smugglers 3
is based more on text.
3 places you in one of four factions. Each of the factions has different
objectives and weapons. Playing through the game, one of your main goals is to
trade goods with the various planets that you visit. This will help you to build
up your funds so that you can buy better weapons and a better ship. In addition
you will undertake missions that will help to increase your standing within your
faction and win you medals of honor.
There are in fact action battles in the game, however, the battles consist of
the player and an enemy in a turn based conflict that shows both ships, a
proximity meter and the special weapons that each have available. These battles
work very well by putting the player in control of all the important factors of
the battle without over-involving players with minute details.
3 scores big points for providing such a rich storyline despite a few grammar
problems that show up in the text. The story draws players in with constant
updates as to where their faction lies in regards to the conflict in addition to
encounters with other star vessels that further involve players and create a
feeling of really being engaged in the conflict. The game offers amazing depth
and development as players continue on, hiring crew and accepting ever more
perilous and complicated missions throughout multiple star systems.
The graphics in the game are done quite well and do a wonderful job of keeping
players focus on the systems, weapons, and peoples in the game. Each of the
characters and screens is very well-rendered, and looks much better on the
screen than one might expect by looking at the screenshots. The sound in the
game is rather scant, but what is available is exceptionally well done. It helps
provide a fantastic backdrop for the game that further sucks gamers into the
Smugglers 3 provides a different angle on the space sim, and one that works
extremely well. Gamers looking for an interstellar challenge that will keep them
in another world for quite some time would do themselves a favor by checking
this game out.
Number 7 - Global Defense Network
|Release: July 2004